Saturday, 21 June 2014

Dads and dating daughters - Exhibit A - Frank and Grant

Dads and dating daughters - Exhibit A - Frank and Grant
21 June 2014

I remember the first time I had to bring a boy home.  Talk about embarrassing.  I thought I would die.  My family was sure to embarrass me.  They’d most likely swear.  My annoying little brother and sister would do their magic – be annoying.  Flatulence was a strong possibility.  My mom would whip out my baby album.  My dad might tell an awkward joke.  Our home would look so very, very homely (not très chic at all).  My folks would listen to their cringing music.  My mom would definitely whistle.  Or sing.  My adorably cute little sister, would annex him (she did too).  My brother would do something goofy (he did too).  My dad might do the whole heavy-menacing-father thing (he did a bit – or perhaps I only imagined it in my anxious teenage mind).  Our dog might try to hump him.  I mean the list of possible catastrophes was pages long.  Nay, volumes full.

And to cap it all off, I was the eldest.  I’d have to pop the dating cork, so to speak.  There had been no sibling paving the way for me.  In fact, I think my folks thought I’d stay ten forever.  I was convinced they hadn’t realised I’d been quietly growing up on the side lines.  Maturing in to a young lady.  They were kind of growing up at the same time I suppose.  They were still so young themselves.

I put the whole subject of boys off as long as possible.  Doing a rather admirable job of playing along with the whole, “I’ll-just-stay-ten-forever-thing”.  Until I quite simply couldn’t last.

I first gently broached boys towards the end of primary school.  Gently throwing in the odd name or two.  Then, I eventually gained a measure of comfort and became more practiced in the verbal art of discussing boys.  I clearly remember droning on to my mom about a boy called, Geoffrey Garrett, while we were doing the dishes after supper every night.  Night after night.  I think I simply picked up every night, where I left off the previous night.  And to her justice, my mom did a really fair impression of paying attention.  Don’t know how she managed it.  I remember that in particular his hair fascinated me.  It was cut really straight at the top, and it kind of spiked up.  Like a newly cut lawn.  Strange analogy, but there you have it.  I also recall freckles and the fact that he was tall.  Still I went on and on and on.  Extremely repetitive.  Until, I eventually changed topics.  To Darren Sturgess.  It was pretty much an exact replay of the Geoffrey Garrett scenario.  Minus a few changes.  Change spiky hair, for blonde hair.  And he was really short.  And so it went on.  My mom deserved a medal.  I don’t even think alcohol would’ve deadened her senses.  Not that she indulged, but in a similar situation, I would’ve been tempted.

But these were little girl crushes.  Very typical of that age.  I liked the idea of having a boyfriend, and of being in love.  But I wouldn’t know what to do with a boyfriend.  Or what being in love really felt like.

High school also saw a few crushes and young loves.  Until I met Grant.

And right from the start, I knew he was the real deal.

My dad was not overly impressed.  In fact he was far less friendly with Grant, than any of the previous and very few guys that had come to our home.  I clearly sensed some hostility.  And I think my dad only pulled himself together on my mom’s urging.  And “gentle” prodding.  Putting on a polite face.  Humouring me.  Alas, he was not a very good actor.  He wasn’t really rude.  He was just not charmed, and seemed to hang on to his fatherly reservations.

But I think that for a father, this is a very difficult thing.  Would any guy really get the nod?  Meet the requirements.  Get paternal approval?

But as day of day, week after week, month after month, and eventually year after year passed, he warmed up.  Just a bit.  For me.

There was nothing wrong with Grant.  He was a perfectly nice man.  A good person.  I know for a fact that my dad knew this.  But ultimately, I think my dad realised that this would be the man that took me from him.  And making Grant sweat a little bit, would perhaps take the sting out of it.  Make it hurt a little less.  At least for him.

My dad and Grant had a good relationship.  They had an understanding.  And mutual respect.  Perhaps not so much fondness, but a certain liking.

Until we got married.  I do believe that my dad only really warmed up fully to Grant, once it was inevitable.  Once he was a part of my family.  My dad could see that I was happy, so that counted hugely in Grant’s favour.  And thus he treated him with love.  Said to me, that Grant was one of his kids.  Which was kind of odd, as the age gap between them wasn’t very big.  About sixteen years only.  And when Grant and I started dating, my dad was only 37.  So ridiculously young.  Can’t imagine having to contend with a daughter’s serious boyfriend at the age of 37.  But when my dad spoiled me, he made a point of spoiling Grant too.  On one occasion, he put R200 in an envelope for each of his kids as a random spoil.  He wrote a personal note on the envelope and handed it to us.  And rather than give Grant and I one envelope, we each got one.  It was very sweet.  R200 was a lot of money then, and my dad wasn’t flush.  In addition, Grant gave him Luke – the only grandchild he got to meet.  I also remember being married for a short while, and me making some or other comment about Grant.  And my dad saying to me, “Don’t speak about your husband like that”.  I was completely and utterly shocked.  Floored.  It was true.  My dad had finally bought into Grant. 

I was “the women”.  And they had bonded as “the men”.

Tomorrow, Dads and dating daughters – Exhibit B.  Me-thinks Amber’s in for a bumpy ride…

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Handshake between Grant and my Dad, as my dad hands over the bride to the groom

And he's one of the family
Dad and daughter dance at our wedding - very special

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